These memories that I have of Velvet are proof that you don’t have to ride a horse or even touch it for it to have an impact on you.
Surrounded By Horses In The Community
As I have mentioned before, I was born into a farming family. The area where we live is like a mini piece of the country amongst suburban sprawl. Across the street from our farm are horse farms.
The one farm my parents weren’t too fond of because their horses always got loose. More than once they took a romp through our tomato fields.
Directly across from me is a big open field with an old house at the top of the hill.
Next door to that was a farm that bred racing thoroughbreds. I have a small recollection of seeing horses there. By the time I was really old enough to remember the horses were long since sold, and the farm was horseless. Eventually, one of our dear friends would buy this farm. I have many, many memories with horses there. Those are for another day though.
Continuing up the hill away from our farm, you pass the high school ( formerly our property, unfortunately, took due to eminent domain). Then comes the church cemetery. The church sits at the top of that hill. Hence, the reason Mt. Carmel had been called “the guiding light on the hill”.
Next to the church is another thoroughbred breeding farm. One that is still owned and run by the same family it was back when I was a kid. Again, another bunch of horses I have memories of. Those are for another day though also!
I just wanted to paint a picture for you of the fact that I have grown up surrounded by horses.
Where She Lived
Across the street from the thoroughbred farm next to the church is where Velvet lived. There was a farmhouse there. Velvet had a small paddock just a little ways from the house. This was all before they put the subdivision in next door to it. I can picture the house, velvet in her little paddock, and a big grassy space between Velvet’s paddock and the neighboring house. An ancient farmhouse in between two old gorgeous trees.
We passed Velvet every time we went up or down the road. I knew her name because my mother has grown up in the area. She knew her owners and knew the horse. I may be remembering wrong, but I feel like I even heard that my mom may have ridden Velvet at some point.
She was a dark-colored mare. As a kid, I remember thinking she was black. Looking back on it, I don’t think she was. I just hadn’t learned my horse colors yet!
When we would turn into church coming from my Gramm’s house, Velvet was on the passenger side of the road. I can remember straining against my seat belt looking for her.
One Place I Could Always Count On Seeing A Horse
She was always there, in what seemed to be about the same spot. She was an old lady, and never seemed to move around the paddock much. At least I didn’t see her move. I assume that she stayed near where they threw her hay. Who knows!
Every time I looked at Velvet, there she was, I could count on her to be standing in that corner of her paddock when we went by. The thoroughbreds on the other side of the road weren’t always out, I learned not to get my hopes up about seeing them. Since they were sometimes turned out in the back instead of the roadside.
Velvet though, she was reliable. No matter when we drove by, I knew I could count on seeing a horse! I can remember looking forward to it as we drove past there going back and forth between my Gramm’s and our farm.
I did get to see her up close one time. My Gramm knew the people who owned her, so they said I could come over and see her in person. I was super excited to see her up close. After all, that time watching her for so long it was almost like I thought she might recognize me!
I Got To Meet Her In Person Once
When we got there, she was standing in her usual spot. Right in the corner (remember I said she was reliable!). I can remember when we approached the fence she did not come over right away. My heart sunk a little thinking that here I was finally getting a chance to see her up close and personal and she wasn’t going to come to say hi.
When she did come, she had a calming presence. She had the look of a wise old horse. I noticed this at the time when I was a kid, that there was something special about her. At the time though, I didn’t realize exactly why I thought she was special. Looking back on it now I realize it was her demeanor that left an impression on me. It was so kind and gentle. She took treats from us almost as if she couldn’t believe that we were there especially to feed her!
I remember when I saw her up close how much her face was graying, as well as a few other spots on her body. Her coat was thick, and she was swaybacked. At the time I thought she was just as beautiful in person as she was from the car window.
After we fed her the treats I remember being sort of disappointed when she right away ambled back to her usual spot in the paddock. That is okay though, I was thrilled to see her up close and touch her. She lived up to every expectation I had come up with for her the many times I drove by.
Years Passed By And Velvet Was Still My Guaranteed Look At A Horse On Our Way Up And Down The Road
I never was able to go back again to see her in person. Years, went by, literally years! Velvet was still there in that paddock, in that same spot. I looked for her, almost without even thinking about it when we got to that part of the road. She was always there. Sometimes if it was cloudy or rainy she reminded me of Eeyore. Just because she was all by herself and so calmly stayed in that same spot all the time. We know that she was well taken care of though, so had no reason to be sad like Eeyore.
As the years went by even from the road you could see that Velvet was noticeably grayer. Her swayback was getting lower. Her ambling walk was getting slower.
Finally, Many Years Later, Velvet Was Gone
One day, Velvet was gone. I knew that something must have happened to her since for years and years she was reliably in her spot so I could see her. Her owners owned her for so long that as I said my mom remembered her as a kid. I knew that they wouldn’t have sold her. Not to mention, who would want an old horse like her besides maybe a horse crazy kid like I was at the time.
She Lived To Be In Her 4o’s! How Cool Is That?
I don’t remember who exactly told me that she had died. I assumed that she had. Velvet lived into her 40’s! Until I got my own horses and even after I had my own horses. I always looked over at Velvet in her paddock. Even after she was gone. It took a while to get out of the habit of looking over to check on her. Even now every once in a while I glance over there. The paddock isn’t there anymore. It doesn’t matter though, I can still see old Velvet standing in her spot, plain as day. Even now I still can!
I never rode Velvet, I honestly don’t even know if she was rideable by the time I met her. I only got to get close to her and touch her one time. She was always there though. I knew that Velvet would be in her paddock when we went by.
I Knew Velvet Would Be There, That Was a Big Deal To A Horse Crazy Kid Like Me
Beyond horse crazy really is a better way to describe it. Horse crazy isn’t a strong enough word to describe it. Knowing that I could always look over there and see Velvet on our way up and down the road made me so happy. As I said, there were other horses to see on the road we drive on all the time. They just to my dismay weren’t always turned out where I could see them.
That’s the thing. Velvet was always there. Though she wasn’t mine. I only saw her up close one time. She wasn’t fancy or flashy in any way. I have no idea of her history. No idea where she had come from or what she had ever done. It didn’t matter to me though.
When you are a horse-obsessed kid just knowing a place where you can look and always see a horse every time, that is a big deal. Velvet was always there.
That is why all these years later I can still picture her so vividly in my mind. She was special to me in her own way. She was a horse I could count on!
I don’t know her exact age when she passed away. I just know she was in her 40’s. She seemed to have lived a nice quiet life. Velvet never really knew me, but I thought I knew her! It is funny how differently you see things when you are young.
I Still Look For Her Every Once In A While
Velvet is a horse that I will never forget. I still go by where she used to live every day and not much has changed there. Except for the subdivision next door. In my mind’s eye, I can still see her out there, even now. Thinking about that makes my heart happy.
As a horse crazy kid with a one track mind for horses, before I got the chance to own my own, I could count on seeing Velvet. That’s why even though she was plain, old and graying, she holds a special place in my heart and mind when I think about horses I have known.